Each spring break and summer, the Education Extension department hosts a number of groups from all over the world for short-term programs. These students attend classes during the day, and stay with local host families, most of which are staff and parents of the school. Host families are therefore a vital component of the success of these group visits.
For the visiting students, living with a Canadian family is like a dream come true. They have been studying and learning English since they were small children, and the idea of spending time in a Canadian high school and being part of a Canadian family represents the fulfillment of a goal that they have been preparing for since they began learning English. These students are truly motivated to become an integral part of the family, and make the most of every moment of every day during their short time here.
Host families also find that hosting a student is an incomparable experience. The following comments from SMUS families who have previously hosted prove what a deep and meaningful experience it can be to host a student from a different culture in one’s home.
“[Hosting international students] has benefited my children because it broadens their outlook. They can interact with those students, learn about their culture, their food, and what they do at school. It’s one thing to go to that country to learn about their culture, but they are coming to you, so what an amazing learning opportunity!”
“Hosting Japanese junior high school students was a really fun experience. For one thing, it was great just having kids in the house again. With my boys all grown up, it was nice to have young kids in the house again. I guess I’m sort of dealing with a bit of empty nest syndrome. We also got a lot of enjoyment out of just making someone who was very nervous about being here really enjoy her experience – not just at the end, but even halfway through we could see that she was starting to relax. These [international] students mostly come from big cities, so being able to take them out so they can experience the nature that we have all around us was a really positive experience.”
“We have hosted many times over the years. Each time we open our home we learn a little more about someone else, their world, their customs and their life experiences. In turn, we get to share our beautiful city with them. Our family is enriched through these experiences, as we learn how to communicate creatively – often with charades! – and there is always lots of laughter, smiling, and nodding. We cherish the opportunity to welcome them to our family.”
“It’s hard to explain in words why I enjoy hosting so much. I just know I like the experience. There is joy in giving – even more so when it is not out of pocket. So give a bed, a home, a place. Just live your daily life and make room for someone else. Express. Show. Teach. Compare lives. Share your culture, and be surprised to discover that you may just be a little happier, a little more appreciative to be Canadian. And every so often, there is a card handed to you that reads, ‘You made me feel so welcome, you have been like family.’ And you will know you have changed the world a tiny bit with Canadian kindness, hospitality, and relationships.”
Why not try this extraordinarily rewarding experience?
To find out more about getting involved with hosting, please contact Mrs. Yukimi Ute at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-370-6120.